Emotional Control: Why It Works

I don’t like to brag, really.  I feel like a stuffy, pompous, fill in the blank when I brag.  But today, I feel different.  Today I want to brag about my ability to control my emotions.  And I want to tell you why controlling your emotions is one of the smartest things you can ever do for yourself.

When we become overwhelmed with emotion, for some reason most of us feel the world needs to know that an injustice has been done to us.  If we’re mad at someone, we have to tell them what a jerk they are.  If someone has hurt our feelings, they must know how they have bruised us.

Why does anyone have to know what we are feeling? When someone treats us wrong or does something we disagree with, it is our perception of what has happened that hurts us.  We react so quickly to the perceived pain or hurt that we do not give ourselves time to understand it and look at it for whatever it is.

Feelings Aren’t Facts

A friend of mine was going through a break up about a year ago.  She told me how she felt abandoned and how her ex boyfriend was a jerk for leaving her and blah blah blah.  Like dice from a cup, the words, “Feelings aren’t facts and facts aren’t feelings” spilled out of my mouth.

You can’t change the facts, but you can change the way you react to the facts.  Dr. Phil said, “change the way you think and you’ll change the way you feel.”

Look up at a wall in whatever room you are sitting in.  That wall is there.  That is a fact.  How you feel about that wall being there does not change the fact that the wall is there.  You can feel angry about the wall being there which hurts you, but how you feel does not change the fact that the wall is still there.

Only We Have Control Over Our Emotions

When someone hurts us or something happens that brings us pain, we have the power to control our emotions.  Of course we do not let others walk all over us.  In the book, “You Can’t Make Me Angry”, Paul O. says, “-we get on with our lives.  We don’t sit around letting the situation decide our emotional state.”

People wind up sitting around brooding over injustices and how they were pained by others actions.  Worse still, some of these people hold it in until the tiniest situation arises and then they are screaming and throwing things with no justification.  What kind of solution is that?

Sometimes we really just need to get the feelings out.  It is healthy to get all that bad stuff out.  If you feel like you need a physical release, punch your pillow or go to the driving range.  If you belong to a gym, find the heavy bag and beat it to a pulp.  Never put your hands on another human being or any other living creature.

We have to get on with our lives.  We have to learn to say, “I have a choice today. I can choose to stay angry and ruin my day. Or, I can choose to let it go, if only for a while, and come back to it later.”

The bottom line is when we are dealing with emotions we have to rule them.  We cannot let our emotions rule us.  We are the creator and destroyer of our emotions.

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Twenties

When i was in my twenties, I was an idiot.  I’m not sure why some people in their twenties (like my upstairs neighbors) lose capacity for rational thinking.  It could be the surge of hormones and the raging desire to do things that, at the time, seem cool.  Things like, renting out your apartment as a party spot.  This is not only stupid, but dangerous.

Thankfully, I made it to thirty-seven.  I can now look back at the ridiculous acts I committed and stunts I pulled, and shake my head in sheer embarrassment much like anyone else after their moment of clarity.

I have a bright, beautiful, compassionate twenty year old daughter.  On the flip side, she is also lazy, spontaneous to a fault, and lacks common sense at times.  This makes her guilty of nothing a million other twenty somethings, past, present and future, are not equally guilty of.

While I’d like to paint a picture of myself as that standout, mature composed twenty something, I was much more stupid than my daughter (thankfully) and can pass on valuable information to her and anyone else that will listen.

I know we all need to go through our share of turmoil and frustration.  After all, it is not the successes we learn from, but the failures.  There is, however, a fine line between stupid, and really freaking stupid.

This brings me to my upstairs neighbors.  Who, in thirty days, will no longer be my upstairs neighbors.  This sits bitter-sweetly with me.  I wish greatly that there were no others involved in the eviction that the family upstairs received this morning.  I hope for their sake the mother/wife gets her act together.

It was Saturday night and my boyfriend was at his second job.  I had off from my second job this weekend because it was my Saturday night to have dinner with my daughter.  I got home from seeing my daughter around 7:30 to the sounds of loud music and voices.  No biggie.  It was only 7:30 pm.  I dashed out the door to meet some old friends I hadn’t seen in years. We ate, laughed and parted ways about 9:30.  I came back home to louder music and banging.  It was getting late, and I was slightly annoyed.  But it was before 10 pm.

My boyfriend came through the door at 10:15 pm.  The noise was still unbearable and we just gave each other a “this is ridiculous” look and discussed who would go up and knock to tell them to please keep it down if it continued.  We even dug out the copy of the lease to make sure we were not overreacting.  Right there in the lease it stated: “No loud music, noise or banging that infringes on the comfort of neighboring tenants”.

I was elected.  My boyfriend said it’d be good for me since I am terrible at confrontation. After rolling my eyes along with various reasons why I disagreed, I went to go chat with the upstairs neighbors.

As I climbed the steps, I could see the overhead light on in the parlor.  The blinds were cracked and hanging lopsided and there were empty beer cans on the small landing outside the door.  The music was annoyingly loud and I realized at that moment I had crossed my internal threshold of age.  When I got to the landing and was able to look in the door, I saw five people sitting in various types of chairs that I had never before seen.  I knocked on the door careful to keep my face expressionless.

The twenty something kid closest to the door answered.  I stepped into the doorway slightly, but never into the apartment.  I was able to look to the left and see two more people sitting along the wall, also on mismatched chairs.  I asked where the couple was that lived there.  The kid at the door said the girl would be back.  I then asked them if they could please keep it down.  The ceilings are paper-thin, I said.  The kid said sure, I said thank you and retreated down the steps.

As I walked down the steps, the first thing that popped in my head was, who the hell are all of those people.  I had never seem any of them at the apartment.  Secondly, where the hell was the living room furniture?  I went back into my apartment, explained what I said and what I saw to my boyfriend and contemplated calling the cops.

I did not call the cops.  I didn’t feel it was police worthy.  Calling the cops would have brought flashing red and blue lights and a bunch of drama.

At about 12:30 am, the girl came home and my boyfriend lunged off the couch.  He flung the door open and yelled something like, “Yo, can you keep it down? It’s after midnight and it’s freaking loud.”
She apologized, went up the steps and several minutes later, it was quiet.  She came stomping down the stairs a while later and my boyfriend looked out the door to see her get back in her car with an open beer can.

The noise started again, and went on until 2:30 am, intermittently.

My boyfriend and I decided that we needed to tell the landlord in the morning.  We went to the convenience store he owns, and sure enough he was standing at the end of the deli counter where he often times is every morning.  We told him everything that transpired and he said, “That’s it.  They’re getting an eviction notice.”

The boyfriend knocked on our door this morning and asked what happened.  Apparently, they were served the eviction shortly after we went to talk to the landlord.  It turns out that he and she were living together but separated.  She doesn’t work and he can’t afford to get his own place.  This explained to me why there were numerous men over the apartment at odd times and why he was never around.

My boyfriend went outside on the step to talk to the boyfriend and came back in.  I felt bad for the boyfriend and the little girl, who I found out was upstairs with the seven strangers while the girlfriend was off getting more pot and beer.  For the daughter’s sake, I hope to hell the mother gets help.

As we sat on the couch and reminisced about our twenty something years we heard the boyfriend yelling at the girlfriend about his daughter being in a house full of strangers.  Then it clicked.  Addiction makes people do stupid things.

Bored? Try This…

Every once in a while I get bored. Most times I have the ability to cure my boredom with one of the following twenty-five ways to cure boredom. If you are bored, or will be bored shortly.. try one or many of the following ways to cure boredom. Some of them are pretty common, like going for a walk or dancing to music. Others are not so common, like going snail hunting. Snail hunting is very time consuming! Not only are snails epically slow, but they are especially good at hiding.

Going to a mall without your wallet is a tough one. However, I have gone to the mall without my wallet and maybe 5 bucks in my pocket for a coffee. I walked the mall, looked in the stores and people watched. I saw a few things I wanted to buy (a few people too), but my wallet was at home. This turned out to be a great idea, because by the time I got home, I hadn’t remembered what I wanted to buy. I saved myself some cash.

As far as applying to a job you think you’ve not a snowball’s chance in Honduras of getting, I’m not saying a job that is completely out of your league. It is good to apply for positions you have some skills in, or may even have an interest in, like a zoo keeper.

Give a few of these a try.  If you have some better ideas you’d like to share with the rest of us, please do.

1) Write a poem.
2) Go for a walk.
3) Go for a walk and take pictures.
4) Listen to music and analyze the lyrics.
5) Dance to music.
6) Rearrange your cabinets.
7) Rearrange your schedule.
8) Go snail hunting.
9) Go to the mall; leave your wallet at home.
10) Listen to a type of music you’ve never listen to.
11) Watch a foreign movie.
12) Go to the library.
13) Doodle a picture story.
14) Use song titles to write a short story.
15) Apply to a job you’ve no chance of getting (you never know).
16) Make up cryptograms and put them away to solve the next time you are bored.
17) Volunteer somewhere. Anywhere.
18) Go through your closet and get rid of clothes you never wear.
19) Go for a drive without your GPS and get lost.
20) Start a conversation with a stranger.
21) Write a paragraph of how you would like people to perceive you.
22) Write a paragraph of how you think people perceive you.
23) Write a letter to a soldier.
24) Pick flowers and put them on a random grave.
25) Visit a historical site and take notes. Blog about it.

Ways To Give Back

In today’s world it seems like more take and take than give and take.  When did everyone become so selfish?  I’ve experienced over the years that the more we give, the more we get.

Here are some ways to give back.  This helps out our neighbors, our community and our military.  Giving back makes us feel like thrusting out our chest feathers and shouting, “I’m awesome!  Look what selfless act I just did.”

1) Give Coffee To A Solider

www.greenbeanscoffee.com/coj

Our troops are overseas and not feeling many of the warm elements of home.  Warm them up with a cup of coffee.  On the site, you can choose the amount of the donation you’d like to give.  You can even add a personal message.  The coffee goes to random U.S. Troops that are extremely grateful for your generosity.  I have sent coffee to troops and the thank you messages I received were very heart warming.

2) Give Blood

www.americanredcross.org

What better way to give than actually giving part of yourself.  On the Redcross website, there is information on the types of blood that are in high demand, what not to do before you decide to donate blood and locations to donate.  If you are a first time donor, there is a link to click on that tells you about what to do prior to, during and after giving blood.  Diet is important in blood donations, so cut out the fat and drink a lot of water before you head out to give blood.

3) Help A Furry Friend

www.aspca.org

As an animal lover, this is my go to site when I have a little extra cash and am feeling generous.  Since the ASPCA is a non-profit organization, they need all the help and money they can get.  Another great way to help out the ASPCA is to spread the word.  With social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, it is easy to share a link and ask others to help out.

4) Donate Your Time

www.volunteermatch.org

Since time seems like something that we can really ever afford to give away these days why not give some to those who could really use your help.  At this site, all you do enter your location and a keyword of the kind of volunteer work you’d like to participate.  A detailed list will pop up with various links of charities or organizations that need your help.  Even better, you can register on the site for free to receive email updates and sign up for the newsletter.

5)  Help Out The Less Fortunate

www.justgive.org

This is a great website.  You can browse by category and go through the different charities.  You may even stumble on a charity you didn’t even know existed like Crime Prevention or Arts & Culture.  The site has links on getting started and tips on giving every day like 50 ways to save animals, most of which involve a lot of common sense and very little money.  Also, it has some useful information on ways to give time without overexerting yourself.  This is wonderful because a lot of us do not volunteer our time because we have so little of it.

Hopefully this has helped you figure out a few ways to help some fellow neighbors, strangers or furry friends out.  Donating time, money and belongings is a wonderful way to give back.  Not to mention, it really amps up our self-esteem when we do selfless acts of random kindness.

In what ways do you like to help others out?

Perfectly Imperfect

Meditation For Thursday, February 24, 2011

Perfectionism is a stressor for many of us.  For others, it is crippling.  Company cannot come into our home until it is perfect.  We do not leave the house until we look perfect.  When we set the table for dinner, it must look… perfect!

No one is perfect.  The sooner you realize this, the happier you’ll be.

It is 7:40 in the morning and you are yelling at your hair in the bathroom mirror. You’re stressing because you’re running late (again) and there is no way you are leaving the house looking like this.  Your hair refuses to adhere to your strict demands of perfectionism.  If anyone asked you, you would swear your hair could actually hear you.  I know there were a few times I was pretty sure my hair could hear me.  But my hair wanted to play the let’s see how many of us she rips out today game.

Believe it or not, no one cares.  No one will notice your imperfect hair.  Heck, no one notices your perfect hair.  How many times have we apologized for our appearance, the dirt on the dashboard of our car or the seven dishes in the kitchen sink only to be told, “Really?  I hadn’t noticed”.  Now we feel silly because we brought attention to something that no one had noticed. Embrace your freaky hair.  You’ll feel better once you realize there are imperfect things we cannot perfect.  Sometimes (ok, most times) even hair.

Maybe you are having company over and you just spent the last three hours with a piece of duct tape on a stick to get the fuzzies out of the ridge between the baseboard and the carpet.  You are the only person who is, or ever will be, aware of these displaced fuzzies.  Why, when people come to our home, do we get so freaked out about all those fuzzies? Say it with me:  No one cares about the displaced fuzzies.

Lighten up!  Perfectionism is draining.  When we beat ourselves up with this kind of self abuse, it takes a toll on our spirit and our health.  Learning to let go of perfectionism is a wonderful step towards accepting yourself for who you are.  When we let go of perfectionism, we give ourselves the gift of being human.  To let things be as they are (even us and our own idiosyncrasies) gives us time to enjoy the moment rather than fret about its lack of perfection.

Mantra for the day:  I am perfectly imperfect.

Meditation for Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Learn Something New

As the days whisk by and we’re caught up in all of the tedious moments of meal planning, check writing and that fun task of laundry that seems to procreate all by itself (who wears eight socks in two days?) we start to feel like we are in a dirt encrusted rut that Luke Skywalker couldn’t pull us out of.

Learning something new will add excitement to your life.  It helps build self-esteem, enhances your character, and helps you make new friends.  Plus, it gives you something to talk about to your children and current friends other than crusty Cheerios and Dr. Phil.

There is one rule to learning something new. Make sure it is something that you want to learn.  Taking a jujitsu class is great if you want to learn how to better protect yourself in close combat.  But, if you are only taking a jujitsu class to impress the guy down the street, chances are the warm, fuzzy feeling you had in week one will feel like a crampy ‘this sucks’ feeling by week three.

If you aren’t sure what you’d like to learn about or brush up on, make a list of all the things you enjoy.  After you make your list, circle three that you like the most.  Then go online or go to the library and search for classes or seminars in your area on the interests you’ve circled.  Some may cost money and some are free.  If you feel it is worth a few dollars, treat yourself.

There is a great website called, meetup.com that has a slew of different groups, from knitting to motorcycle riding.  You’ll meet people with similar interests and maybe even make some new friends.

Thought for the day:  Learning new things increases my happiness and potential.

Let Bygones Be Bygones

Meditation For Tuesday, February 22, 2011

When we are young we learn about disappointment, hurt and anger.  As we grow most of us learn tools to handle these pains and letdowns.  Those of us who do not learn effective coping tools wind up holding onto resentments that hurt our own well-being.  Holding onto pain from the past hurts our future.

Emotional pain sticks with us longer than physical pain.  If we fall down and skin a knee, we may cry for a moment, but we get up, brush it off and keep on trekking.  However, emotional pain burrows inside of us.  We sit and we dwell and we think of ways to get even or we manifest misdeeds done unto us, letting it damage us continually until we are full of hate.

In the movie American History X, Edward Furlong’s character says, “Hate is baggage.  Life’s too short to be ticked off all the time.”  When I heard that line a light bulb went off in my head. He used a stronger word.. but you get the point.

When we are angry at others, or full of hate, the only ones we hurt are ourselves.  Most of the people we are angry at long forget that we were ever mad at them in the first place.  Others never knew that they had upset us or maybe they did and didn’t care.

So there we sit, in our dimly lit room, or driving our car, stewing over the injustices done to us by careless people.

Get over it.  When you keep your anger, you give away your power.  You are letting the actions or words of others dictate your well-being.  Why would you want to give someone else that kind of control?

If you are so upset that you can’t see straight, write it down, scream at the wall or punch a pillow.  If you feel you really must let the person know how upset you are, write it down first.  It is important that you do this so that you can read it over a few times and let the situation sink in a little.  Often, we realize we are overreacting and wind up tearing the paper up and never saying anything.

If you feel you must say something, it is important that you get it in your head in a way that will be effective in communicating why you are upset.  Calling someone names and rehashing things that have long been talked about can lead to an argument and more resentment.

Meditation for the day:  Letting go of resentment and anger kindles my wellbeing.